Flyers’ No. 1 mission is to short-circuit Penguins’ power play

Andrew MacDonald

VOORHEES, N.J. – It might take a few chainsaws and some tall trees to take down the wires feeding Pittsburgh’s No. 1 power play.

But that, figuratively speaking, is what the Flyers hope to do in their best-of-seven playoff series with the Penguins, which opens Wednesday in the Steel City.

The numbers tell the story: Pittsburgh went 5 for 13 (38.5 percent) on the power play against the Flyers this season, with the Penguins winning all four games.

By contrast, the Flyers went a mediocre 2 for 16 (12.5 percent).

By season’s end, the Penguins had the top power play in the NHL at 26.2 percent.

Which would appear to be big trouble for a Flyers’ penalty kill which finished 29th in the NHL at barely 75 percent (only better than Montreal and the Islanders).

It’s not going to be easy stopping the likes of Sidney Crosby, Evgeny Malkin, Phil Kessel, Patric Hornqvist and Kris Letang, but the Flyers have to figure out something.

What’s the key?

“Stay out of the box,’’ kidded Andrew MacDonald after Monday’s practice at the Skate Zone. “That’s No. 1.

“Obviously, they’ve been lethal all year against everyone. But they’ve been especially good against us. A couple games we played them pretty well. . .I think we just took too many penalties in the one game and they capitalized finally. We’re going to have to really break down their power plays and their tendencies. We have to do a good job of blocking shots and lanes.’’

On the penalty kill, the Flyers will need exceptional work from their top defense pairing of Shayne Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov.

It will be Provorov’s first Stanley Cup playoff action and he’s looking forward to it.

“It’s hard not to be excited,’’ Provorov said. “That first game. . .to be honest, I couldn’t sleep the last two nights.’’

The Flyers did manage to get two points out of the four games they lost to the Penguins but those certainly weren’t enough to be considered confidence boosters.

“Yeah, we didn’t play and get the points that we wanted in the games against them,’’ Provorov said. “But in three of those games, I think we played really well. We kind of let a few games get away but it doesn’t matter now, it’s a clean sheet in the playoffs.’’

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About Wayne Fish 2452 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.

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